Though soccer teams can have up to 11 players on the field at a time, they must function as one cohesive unit during a game; communicating is one of the key aspects in achieving that goal. Cutting down errors, making smart passes and executing defensive strategies all requires clear communication among teammates in the height of competition. Cultivating communication skills amongst the coach and players in practices can lead to second-nature collaboration at game time.
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Suggest particular words or short phrases that the team uses for specific actions. For example, the phrase may be “all the way” when there’s a clear path to the goal, or “man on,” which means a teammate is being marked from behind. Encourage players to freely call out to each other during practices and drills so that the catchphrases become second nature to the players.
Allow the natural leaders on the team to emerge at the beginning of the season, such as the goalkeeper, sweeper and central midfielder, which are usually the players that have the best view of the field. Encourage them act as field generals for players on the wings, to alert them to developing problems on defense and opportunities on offense.
Reinforce positive communication throughout the game among players, especially when the team is losing. Rather than feeling defeated before the game is over, turn the situation or atmosphere around by having team leaders, along with the coach and captains, pump the team up with positive talk. Phrases like “good play,” “nice pass” and “great try,” can help to keep the mood light and the outlook optimistic.
Run passing drills that emphasize communicating and to get players other than the natural leaders more involved. Have four to six players form a circle and pass the ball to each other. The player passing the ball calls out the name of the person to receive it; that player then repeats the practice and calls out the name of the next player to receive the ball. Rotate the circle throughout the drill so that the players have to constantly know where their teammates are at all times.
Foster camaraderie among the team off of the field as well as on. Organize team events, outings and fundraisers that encourage socialization, which helps the team members get to know each other in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere. Friendships formed off the field can help with on-field support, communication and enthusiasm.